Today's press conference with Christian Horner, Andreas Seidl and Jost Capito.
Q: Christian, let's start with you: first and third in FP1, but let's rewind the clock back a little. How confident were you and the team coming into this weekend?
Christian Horner: You always look forward to racing in Monaco. It's a different challenge, a different type of circuit. We had a good race here a couple of years ago. We missed not being here last year. It's a great track. The driver is a key factor around here as well. So we look forward to this event, as we do every year.
Q: How do you rate your chances?
CH: Judging by the first four races, it's going to be very tight again. There's not much between the cars at the moment, certainly on a Saturday and that's always crucial around here. So, it's going to be about getting the perfect qualifying together, which will play a key role, as it always does, for the outcome of the race.
Q: Lewis Hamilton has won the last couple of races and he has eked out a bit of an advantage in the points table. How important is this race in terms of turning the tide?
CH: I think it's important that we remain within striking distance and that ideally means beating Lewis this weekend so that has to be our target. Usually to beat Lewis you've got to try and win the race. So we will be doing the very best that we can to get the best result we can.
Q: You said after Spain that you need Checo to qualify better. When you look at his data, where is he missing out when you compare it to Max?
CH: I think he has had a relatively little amount of time in the car. I mean we see it with Daniel in the McLaren. It takes these guys a little bit of time to get completely familiar with their surroundings, the characteristics of the car and so on. Plus, he's got Max as his team-mate. I think that's certainly happening for him on Sundays: his race performances are getting stronger and stronger. And I think just with more time and more experience we will see his Saturday performances just naturally improve.
Q: Is there one particular area where he's missing out though?
CH: It's always difficult to identify one specific area, so I think you can always focus on trying to be a bit better everywhere.
Q: Zak Brown said recently that he thinks it's inevitable that Max and Lewis will collide at some point this season. What are your thoughts on that?
CH: I would think Zak is praying for that, to capitalise. You've got two guys that are racing hard against each other and on my calculations Max has now passed Lewis three times to Lewis' once in the race and they are racing hard and as the championship runs on tensions and pressure will inevitably grow. I don't think it's the intention of either driver to have a collision with each other and I think the racing we have seen so far has been exemplary.
Q: Andreas, you've made an early commitment to Lando Norris, with news of him re-signing for the team. He's had a great start to the year, but what is it about him in particular that impresses you?
Andreas Seidl: His speed. That's the most important thing, because that's something we can't fix if it's not there. I think if you look back now, what he has shown to us in the last two-and-a-half years it's impressive to see how he started in his Formula 1 career, into the top 10 in his first ever qualifying in Melbourne in 2019. And then simply taking these steps from year to year, and also having this great start into this year's season was enough for us to be fully convinced that he is the right guy for us going ahead. Lando is also feeling very, very happy within the team and therefore it was quite an easy and straightforward decision to put the next multi-year agreement in place and I'm obviously very., very happy for the entire team that we have with Daniel and Lando definitely one of the best driver line-ups in Formula 1 in our team and I think it will be key on our journey hopefully getting back towards the front in Formula 1 again in some years.
Q: Is this new deal exclusively for Formula 1 or could we see Lando race in another series - IndyCar or sports cars or something?
AS: That's obviously a question you will have to check with Zak. He's in charge of all the other projects. My focus is on Formula 1. I also think it's important for both Daniel and Lando to have full focus at the moment on Formula 1. This task is big enough. Once we have achieved our goals as a team then I think it's the right time to discuss also other projects within McLaren Racing.
Q: Let's talk about this weekend now. How do you rate your chances coming in, the one lap pace of the car? Toto Wolff a moment ago mentioned McLaren as a team that could do well?
AS: I would say on paper this would definitely not be our strongest weekend. If you look at the start of the season, the first races, I think compared to Ferrari, especially on low speed we were definitely a bit behind. But at the same time, it's obviously a special weekend here in Monaco, a special track, and it's simply important again to focus on ourselves. Let's make sure as a team, together with our drivers, to pull it off when it matters and then hopefully we are in a position again to fight for strong points.
Q: And does Daniel have the necessary confidence in the car to shine this weekend or is it still too early?
AS: I think, as Christian said before, Daniel is still in this process of getting fully familiar with the car, still building up this confidence which you need in the end to operate these complex cars at the limit, to get the last three or four tenths out of these cars, but also here I am very happy with the integration process so far. The team did a great job. Daniel is doing a great job. It's important to simply stay calm. We know it will come but it will take a couple of races.
Q: Jost, Lando's signature on a McLaren contract has placed the focus on other young hotshoes. When can we expect news of George Russell's future?
Jost Capito: (laughs) You can't ask me that! I think George is a Mercedes driver for many years and I don't think they will let him go. But we will see. We've got time to talk about drivers. We are not in the need now to discuss that.
Q: He said yesterday that wherever he ends up next year he would like a multi-year deal. Would you be prepared to give him that?
JC: Of course. He is doing a great job. He is a fantastic driver. We created a really good relationship and I think he would fit very well to Williams for our future as well and if he believes in our future there might be a chance to keep him.
Q: George is brilliant in qualifying; he's had four cracking sessions this year already. What sort of opportunity does this race present him and Williams?
JC: That's very difficult to say. In Monaco anything can happen? You never know. With us being at the back of the grid, normally we can take some risks or strategies that the frontrunners can't do. And that can work out and can not work out. We will think about what we will do this weekend. We might do something different to the others, if that makes sense, as we can afford to do that.
Q: The team is celebrating it's 750th race this weekend. What's your first Williams memory?
JC: My first Williams memory is I think 1993 when I was here with the [Porsche] Supercup and we had our VIP drivers and I discussed with Frank if I could have his reserve driver, I don't remember who it was at the time, for the race, and he said: "What do you pay?" I said by principle we don't pay, but you also don't have to pay if he crashes. And he said: "Jost, you should never have principles in life." I said: "Frank, is that a principle." And he said: "No, that's not a principle." That was my first contact with Frank, in 1993. To think that was nearly 30 years ago!
Q: What a great story. And Andreas, you worked with Williams back in the BMW days. Do you have a highlight from your time there?
AS: My highlight was definitely when I started as a young and keen engineer in the Williams garage, which was a simply great education for me, seeing how committed and passionate these guys were and I still remember how Frank was interacting with his team, which is something I always admired and still try to follow a bit as well - this personal interaction he had every morning, every night, showing up at the track in the morning and greeting everyone by name, including the engine people! That's something I admired a lot and that's what I always have in mind when I think about these days.
Questions From The Floor
Q: (Erik van Haren - De Telegraaf) Jos Verstappen said last weekend that Max makes the RB16B look better than it actually is. Do you agree with him?
CH: Driver's fathers always have an opinion and Jos is obviously a little bit more educated than most drivers. Max is driving the wheels off the car. The car will only ever go as fast it can go. Max is doing a great, great job with it and getting every ounce of performance and obviously driving it at its limit.
Q: (Andrew Benson - BBC) Jost and Christian, because I've already spoken to Andreas about this this morning, although Andreas can chip if he wants to; Mattia Binotto just admitted in the previous press conference that Ferrari were exploiting a flexible rear wing. Does that apply to your teams? If so, why, given that flexible bodywork is illegal and will you have to change any aspect of the design of your cars to comply with the new Technical Directive?
CH: Well, the car is designed to comply with the regulations and of course there are tests that the FIA have for most of it and our car complies with all of those tests. Now, occasionally the FIA will change those tests, which they have the right to do. They've done that and that of course means that effectively it's a change in regulations in many respects so of course there have to be changes made to the product and that's expensive and of course time-consuming. But a lot of focus is on the rear of the car at the moment and I'm sure that in due time that's also going to move round to other areas of the car that other teams will come under scrutiny, so of course it's not just Ferrari and Red Bull that are affected. I think Sauber are quite badly affected by this as well, but that's Formula 1, that's what happens when Technical Directives get issued that change things like the tests that rear wings are subjected to.
JC: I think that for every team it's the same, the same as Christian, it's valid for everybody. For us, it's no impact but we might not have looked carefully enough at the regulation when we designed this car.
AS: Well, I guess I said it today in the morning: I think if you see the pictures and footage from Barcelona, it is clear what's happening there, therefore we also welcome what the Technical Directive of the FIA says, to put an additional or different test in place, which helps them to check the cars here in a pragmatic way at the race tracks. But at the same time, we strongly disagree with the timing of the introduction. For us, there's no reason why it should be late for the two races and if the guys that have designed the cars in order to have these flexi-wings two more races, to have the benefit from it because from our point of view, what these guys are using is clearly against the regulations because the test that is in place is not the only criteria you have to meet in terms of being compliant with the regulations. That's why we are having a dialogue with the FIA at the moment, because I think it's a good opportunity for the FIA to show a strong hand here and not accept this any more, from today onwards and yeah, we take it from there.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Monaco, here.